By Graham Carter, MD at AutoLogic Systems (www.autologic-systems.co.uk)
Whether you’re looking to produce a dynamic Digital Twin for virtual commissioning, test new processes
or PLC code, or demonstrate new ideas to staff and customers, the latest in Emulation software can
create the most accurate 3D environments. Emulation engineering software effectively takes away the
risk associated with your automation investments.
Here are 5 ways you can use Emulation to save time and budget whilst improving processes:
1. Create a Digital Twin of your system – Create an accurate digital twin of your entire production
line and processes so you can test it in an office environment. As well as creating detailed 3D
simulation models, you can develop, test, and produce new layouts, scenarios, equipment and
code, all to scale in a virtual environment.
2. Offline controls testing – Create controls testing models of your machines directly within your
CAD system. Debug and refine the kinematic sequences and timing of your designs in a virtual
environment, and make changes faster than is possible with physical prototypes. Create your
machine or mechanical system in CAD, then run the emulation model. Controls emulation saves
time and money by testing the control system before going on-site; shorten the project’s critical
path with virtual commissioning and reduce overall testing time.
3. Analyse your throughput – analyse your system throughput, identify bottlenecks, dimension
layouts accurately, and test out different operational modes to increase your understanding of
how a system responds to changes. Bring “what if?” scenarios to life and compare results to
select the best configuration and functional parameters to meet your objectives. You can reduce
the risk associated with your project decisions by clearly demonstrating the consequences of
system design choices.
4. Create amazing demos – build impressive and accurate demonstration models, create CAD
layouts, and generate a bill of materials from plug and play catalog elements in time for those
project discussion meetings. Communicate your solutions with clear and memorable 3D videos
which guarantee your proposal will be discussed long after the initial presentation is over. Help
your clients to experience your solution interactively within a Virtual or Augmented Reality
5. Improve operator training – by using a 3D model to provide realistic feedback in place of the real
automated system, operator training becomes safer, cheaper, and does not disrupt existing
production. You can also use VR headsets to make the training even more realistic.
Emulation software in action
Following some complex automation commissioning projects, a major engineering design company,
providing end of line automation solutions for the food and beverage industry, was keen to ensure
future projects were delivered on time, within budget and to the satisfaction of their customer.
Using Emulate3D emulation software, the design company were able to create a digital twin of some
proposed hardware for a global snack food manufacturer and test it thoroughly in a virtual environment
before its installation.
They were able to test, debug and validate all code to ensure the hardware would be operational and
working optimally as soon as it was up and running. The installation downtime was kept to an absolute
minimum as no testing had to be carried out on site and the end customer had full confidence in their
purchase because they had already seen the improvements in the virtual environment.
The same software has been used for the design and testing of a new 608,370-square-foot distribution
centre operated by a global 3PL on behalf of Nestlé at the SEGRO East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park
in Leicestershire, UK.
Gill Barnard, Automation Lead on the project for Nestlé UK says: “The model has enabled us to validate
and give great confidence in the automation solution from design through to commissioning. In
addition, the excellent graphics and VR experience have provided an invaluable engagement tool for the
many operational teams and stakeholders who need to support our new operation. We are excited by
the opportunities a digital twin will give us to exploit our capabilities in the coming years.”